BURLINGTON – A revised parking plan for the Human Services Building at 61 Center St. will be back in front of the Planning Board on Oct. 3.
The matter was most recently in front of the Planning Board this past February, where the planners staunchly focused on the site plan application being consistent with what the community wants for its Town Center, which revolves around more green space in the downtown area and less impervious surface. Several years ago, the town moved forward with a concept plan for a new Town Center Overlay District, focusing on more green space, Victorian lighting, and improved pedestrian connectivity.
The planners requested a compromise be made when it came to the amount of parking spaces proposed. Instead of 54 spaces, one board member suggested starting with 20-25 spaces and adding more along the way, only if it is necessary.
After conducting a site-walk at 61 Center St. with the Planning Board, Board of Selectmen, and stakeholders housed in the Human Services Building, Town Engineer Thomas Hayes devised a new plan reflecting the feedback heard from the planners. The objective of the new plan is to balance and maintain the need for parking, while maintaining green-space.
The original plan called for 54 parking spaces in the frontage portion of the 61 Center St. building, resulting in the elimination of a good chunk of green-space. The town has continued to stress there are not enough spaces to accommodate the demand at 61 Center and Grandview Farm.
The existing parking situation in the lot isn’t safe, with cars double-parking, due to insufficient spaces, as well as the traffic circulation pattern not in an ideal state and with kids using the field behind the building, there is a lot that can go wrong due to the current setup.
The need for new spaces is aligned with new construction in the Council on Aging portion of the Human Services Building. The longtime capacity issues at 61 Center St. were addressed two years ago Town Meeting passed two articles for renovations at the site in question and 33 Center St. As for the Council on Aging portion of the renovations, a new access point entrance and proper check-in process at a front desk are key elements of the project. The project was recently completed, resulting in a rehabbed first floor of the Human Services Building and ultimately the proper use of the existing space for the Council on Aging and Board of Health.
The new plan reduces the amount of parking spaces from 54 to 23, leaving one bank of parking instead of two.
“The beauty of the design is it is modular, so if there is a need in the future, we can always go back and build the rest of the spots that are needed,” detailed Town Engineer Thomas Hayes.
As for the access points, there will be a single entrance with one lane in and two lanes out. The back of the parking lot, behind the building, will undergo safety improvements, including strategically placed parking islands and a vertical granite sidewalk stretching from the side of the building to the existing sidewalk that runs along the front of the building. The 23 spaces will be located on the left and right of the building, adequately preserving the green-space located in front of the structure.
The 23 spaces are more than is required under the parking bylaws.
The Selectmen uniformly felt this plan is a “long-time coming” and their hope is the Planning Board also supports it. The Selectmen unanimously approved the revised parking plan for 61 Center St.
As of this writing, the site plan application is expected to be in front of the Planning Board at its meeting on Thursday, Oct. 3 at 7 p.m. in Town Hall’s Main Hearing Room.